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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Issue of the Week: Saving Teachers’ Jobs

Plus Hero and Jerk of the Week

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Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) plans to lay off almost 700 employees—including 482 teachers—but is unwilling to support a bill pending in Congress that would provide emergency funds for cash-strapped schools? That appears to be the hard-line negotiating tactic for MPS, which is trying to convince the teachers’ union that it should accept health care concessions. The concessions may be a good thing, but they should be negotiated during the collective bargaining process, not in the press and not during the budget process. Teachers are still working under their 2007-2009 contract, since negotiations with MPS haven’t produced a resolution on matters such as salary, health insurance and class size. Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s Robert Kraig, who supports the federal funds, calls MPS’s stand “educational treason.” What’s more, MPS—like state Superintendent Tony Evers—should support the federal emergency funds, then work on changing the statewide funding formula so that the district has adequate resources in the coming years. This sort of game-playing isn’t serving our kids.

Heroes of the Week

Barefoot Firefighters

The nature of their employment is heroic in and of itself, but this week area firefighters will go the extra mile by helping the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). MDA’s “Fill the Boot” campaign will see firefighters from departments in Hartford, Greenfield and South Milwaukee remove their boots and then fill them with money from motorists and pedestrians passing by. The funds will be used locally for MDA client services, such as clinic visits, wheelchair purchases and repairs, and trips for children and young adults to MDA Summer Camp.

Greenfield firefighters will be at 76th Street and Layton Avenue from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Wednesday and Thursday, June 23-24; the Hartford and South Milwaukee departments will collect on Friday, June 25. The Milwaukee Fire Department is scheduled to participate in August.

Jerks of the Week

BP’s Republican Defenders in Wisconsin

Last week we called out Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (a BP stockholder) for whining about President Obama being too tough on BP. But he’s not the only BP defender in Wisconsin’s Republican delegation. Take Rep. Paul Ryan, who is part of the Republican Study Committee, which released a statement calling BP’s $20 billion escrow fund “Chicago-style shakedown politics.” Then there are Ron Johnson and Dave Westlake, the Republican Senate candidates who hope to challenge Russ Feingold in the fall. They both disagree with the escrow fund as well, even though the fund is aimed at covering some of the damage caused by BP’s oil spill. Looks like these Republicans think BP’s bottom line is more important than aiding those who have been affected by the corporation’s disastrous drilling.